‘Say it ain’t so’

‘It’s been a wonderful ride’

By ALLEN MINCEY
Posted 12/29/17

“You can’t replace Joe, you can only select his successor.”Mike Mahn, attorney for the Bradley County/Cleveland 911 Board, stated that retiring Joe Wilson’s 25 years with the local emergency 911 system is something that the next director will look at and try to emulate.

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‘Say it ain’t so’

‘It’s been a wonderful ride’

Posted

“You can’t replace Joe, you can only select his successor.”

Mike Mahn, attorney for the Bradley County/Cleveland 911 Board, stated that retiring Joe Wilson’s 25 years with the local emergency 911 system is something that the next director will look at and try to emulate.

Mahn was one of the speakers at a retirement reception for Wilson, whose last day as director is today. He has served as 911 director for 22 of those years, and has been the only person to be in that position since it was created. He announced a few months ago his imminent retirement.

Many of the comments made about Wilson were made in fun, reflecting his own sense of humor. However, many spoke of how he got along with the dispatchers at the center, as well as with the board of directors. When he was first hired, he served as a dispatcher, and performed that duty a few times in his quarter-century with the service.

It was mentioned that this previous work with 911 helped him be a good leader of the service — he knew what the dispatchers were going through.

He has also seen many improvements over the years, the most visible being the building of the 911 Center on Guthrie Drive adjacent to Cleveland Utilities.

“This has been a great place to work out of, and I am sure that the dispatchers enjoy this building,” Wilson said.

The 911 Center also includes offices for the Bradley/Cleveland Emergency Management Agency.

Many on Thursday evening spoke of Wilson’s love of trains and planes, and riding his motorcycle, and his work as a referee/umpire for many years. Fellow official Mark Smith, who was unable to attend the reception but was videotaped for the event, mentioned some times he, Wilson and others traveled to sites to call games.

Others who spoke at the tribute included Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, interim 911 Director Sherry Maxfield, and Wilson’s brother Rodney.

“Everybody needs an older brother. I learned so much from him,” Rodney Wilson said.

Wilson received a special plaque from the board of directors, but the highlight of the evening might have been the video created by the dispatchers and staff at the 911 center. Several older photographs of Wilson were included in the video, as were comments from dispatchers and a song from those same dispatchers.

The retiring director, who held back tears as he spoke to all at the reception, said it was a special night and one that he will never forget. As was his time with the local 911 system.

“It’s been a wonderful ride. Twenty-five years here, with 22 as director, but I am looking forward to retirement,” Wilson said following the reception. “I will now spend time with trains and planes, motorcycles … and grandkids.”

The reception was held at the Museum Center at Five Points.

The person who will take over as director will be named in the next few months. There is now a search committee developing a set of qualifications for those seeking the position.

This committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. at Cleveland Fire Department Station 1, and is open to the public.

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